President Donald Trump met with NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg in London Tuesday morning ahead of a planned NATO summit.
Trump arrived in London Monday night ahead of the meeting, landing in Stansted Airport.
This week’s summit, set for Wednesday, marks the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s establishment.
During the meeting with Stoltenberg, Trump defended NATO from recent criticism by French President Emmanuel Macron, who called the organization “brain dead”.
“NATO serves a great purpose,” said Trump in response to Macron’s comments. “I think that’s very insulting, and I was very surprised,” adding that Macron’s comment was a “very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries, it’s very disrespectful.”
“Nobody needs NATO more than France,” Trump added. “It’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”
The president also praised Stoltenberg’s work as NATO secretary-general.
”I think he is doing a fantastic job, I am a big fan,” said Trump. “We have increased the numbers the other countries are paying by 130 billion dollars.”
Trump’s comments Tuesday, particularly his defense of NATO, contrasted sharply with some of his criticism of the organization during last year’s summit.
In 2018, Trump tweeted “What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?”
The president went on to criticize NATO members for failing to meet their defense spending commitments.
“Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.”
“Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia. They pay only a fraction of their cost. The U.S. pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe, and loses Big on Trade!”